Malthusian crop yields

The forecast size of the NSW grain crop has been cut by a further 40 per cent due to dry, hot and windy weather this month and last month.

The NSW Grain Report, published yesterday by the Department of Primary Industries, is predicting a harvest in coming months of just 2.8 million tonnes, compared with a mid-September estimate of 4.67 million tonnes.

It means the 2007-08 harvest is likely to be even smaller than the disastrous drought-ravaged 2006-07 harvest and the worst in more than a decade.

… yesterday’s NSW report said: “Yield prospects for all crops have continued to deteriorate, with virtually no effective rainfall recorded during September and October. Estimated winter crop area to be harvested is 2.68 million hectares. About 3.12 million tonnes was harvested from 2.62 million hectares in 2006.”

One hesitates to say they told an entire country so. Mostly because, for me at least, my whole family is there, and could really use food, water and electricity for, I’m guessing, the rest of their lives.

In the past year the price of wheat has more than doubled, to reach new highs, and this week the UN published a report that said the planet’s water, land, air, plants, animals and fish stocks were all in “inexorable decline”.

It warned that the world’s population of 6.75 billion “has reached a stage where the amount of resources needed to sustain it exceeds what is available” and climate change “may threaten humanity’s very survival”.

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